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date: 27 November 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the causes of state repression against Islamist organizations in the Arab world. Advancing a rich literature on state repression, authoritarianism, and Islamist politics, it proposes a new approach that centers on the role of non-Islamist audiences for explaining the repression of Islamists. Specifically, the chapter argues that when society is divided between non-Islamists and Islamists, an autocrat can repress Islamists to signal a commitment to non-Islamists to protect them from perceived threats by Islamists. It provides supporting evidence from Egypt, which shows how large-scale repression directed at the Muslim Brotherhood after the coup of 2013 served to cultivate the support of non-Islamists.

Keywords: authoritarianism, repression, Islamist politics, Arab world, Egypt

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